Amidst the picturesque valleys and meandering rivers of Kashmir, blossomed a talent that has taken the world of travel vlogging and cinematography by storm. Introducing Toiub Khan - a prodigious storyteller whose frame captures more than just sights; it captures emotions, cultures, and the heartbeats of the places he visits. As we delve deeper into this exclusive tête-à-tête, we unwrap the layers of his journeys, experiences, and inspirations.
Retro Kolkata: Toiub, being an acclaimed travel vlogger and cinematographer from the stunning Kashmir valley, how do your origins shape your view on travel and the way you narrate stories visually?
Toiub: Kashmir presents a unique amalgamation of diverse cultures, including Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, and Buddhist influences. This rich tapestry, often referred to as Kashmiriyat, has deeply influenced my approach. A travel vlog, in my view, should evoke a spectrum of emotions in its viewers – whether it's happiness, a sense of adventure, or pure curiosity. This is achieved through captivating narratives, immersive visuals, and resonant audio. A vlog that strikes this balance keeps its audience hooked from start to end.
Retro Kolkata: Your work masterfully conveys the beauty and distinctiveness of various locations. Could you tell us about your evolution in travel vlogging and cinematography?
Toiub: I began humbly on Instagram with minimal equipment. In truth, if you have the passion and determination, even a smartphone can suffice in the beginning. While it demanded time and perseverance, I remained dedicated. As my audience grew, so did my toolkit. My interest in travel vlogging, relatively new to Kashmir, led me to launch my YouTube channel. Travel vlogging essentially showcases the daily experiences, travels, and passions of the vlogger. It's vital to establish credibility, which is why I initiated with Instagram. Now, social media offers immense opportunities for newcomers like me.
Retro Kolkata: With all the places you've been, is there one that profoundly touched you or altered your worldview?
Toiub: Absolutely, Sonamarg. It’s called the ‘meadow of gold’, and it's backed by snow-clad mountains set against a blue sky. From my youth, I've been spellbound by its meadows. Engulfed by snow and ice, I would play there without needing any modern games, just nature's own playthings. We have an innate attraction to nature's elements, and Sonamarg reinforces this connection. Kashmir, in all its glory, continues to invite exploration.
Retro Kolkata: How do you strike a balance between the explorer and the filmmaker within you when discovering a new place?
Toiub: While content drives travel vlogs, cinematography holds the power to inspire people to visit a location and perceive it the way I've depicted.
Retro Kolkata: Your vlogs deeply resonate with the essence of destinations and their people. What's your approach to authentically portraying a new culture?
Toiub: To me, a place's culture can speak volumes when showcased beautifully in a travel vlog. However, genuinely experiencing a place and conveying its real essence is key. Travel is an ever-evolving experience, and with each journey, you evolve. I always advise embracing new places with an open heart and adaptability. The more humble and genuine you are, the more warmth you receive.
Retro Kolkata: Given the demands of travel vlogging, how do you ensure a work-life balance?
Toiub: I efficiently juggle my work across Instagram and YouTube, making sure things flow seamlessly. For me, cinematography and traveling are more than just work; they're passions. My primary aim is to spread positivity. The content I share, rooted deeply in culture, has garnered immense popularity.
Retro Kolkata: Can you share a memorable behind-the-scenes story from one of your vlogs?
Toiub: Certainly. On my recent visit to the Bangus Valley in Kupwara district, my car couldn't traverse the slippery, muddy roads. Despite off-roading with my Swift, resulting in damage, we persisted. After the challenging drive, we hiked for two hours to reach what's aptly called the hidden gem of Kashmir – the Bangus Valley.
Retro Kolkata: How has your Kashmiri heritage influenced your interactions with India's diverse cultures and beyond?
Toiub: Kashmir is a melting pot of cultures, traditions, and values. Yet, there exists a harmonious coexistence. Rooted values like respect, humility, and gratitude shape my interactions, making them meaningful and genuine.
Retro Kolkata: What advice would you give to budding travel vloggers?
Toiub: Focus on content quality over mere popularity metrics. Rich content naturally attracts an audience. Exploring intriguing places is the starting point. Keep it authentic and relatable, and always prioritize the right context for your content.
Retro Kolkata: Any exciting future projects or destinations you're eager to explore?
Toiub: I plan to diversify into various facets of travel blogging, including adventure, trekking, and general exploration. High on my list are the Kashmir Great Lakes trek and an expedition to the world's highest peak, Mt. Everest.
Travel, for many, is an escape or a pursuit of new experiences. For Toiub Khan, it's an art form and a medium of storytelling. From the serene valleys of Kashmir to the world's towering peaks, Toiub's lens introduces us to unseen tales and untouched beauties. As we anticipate his next adventure, it's evident that his journey is not just about discovering places, but also about rediscovering oneself amidst the vast tapestry of the world. Here's to many more miles, stories, and frames from Toiub's enthralling escapades. Safe travels, explorer!